Recently we were in Thailand. There was a “The Story of Buddha” (The holy book/ book of teachings for Buddhists) in the drawer of the bedside cabinet. My sons wanted me to read it to them for a bedtime story, so I did. We read just the first part, up to where Lord Siddhartha found enlightenment during meditation under a tree.
Then we had all sorts of questions about meditation. We talked about it for a while, we even tried a little bit of “closing our eyes and concentrating on our breathing”, “clearing any thoughts out of our mind” and relaxing. I think they enjoyed it quite a lot, they were definitely both very interested.
The next day we took them kayaking and on the way there were a few other people in the truck with us. One man was sitting quietly with his eyes closed on the way there for a while. The eldest son pulled my head close to him and whipsered, “Mummy - is that man cleaning his brain? Is he going to turn in to Buddha?”
Since then we’ve been doing a little bit of meditation or quiet mindfulness with the boys a bit more often. It seemed to be an effective way of helping them to relax very quickly, and they quite liked doing it too.
Most of the time, this is roughly how it goes:
- They have a choice. They can lay down or sit comfortably
- They either have their eyes closed or look at a spot in front of them or out of the corner of their eyes (apparently using perpheral vision can be relaxing)
- We usually manage just 10 breaths.... and we count them. Some people say children should meditate for 3-5 minutes but i find that too long for my two. Perhaps we’ll get to 20 breaths and then longer eventually, but for now just 10 breaths. This takes us about 40-60 seconds.
- Sometimes just before we start, or sometimes while we are breathing I talk through the idea of emptying the mind and not thinking about anything
After the first few times, the youngest told me he didn’t want to do it anymore. When i asked him why he told me that if he did it too much he’d turn into a Buddha and he didn’t want that!!
We've found it's great for helping them relax just before bedtime, or to just have a little break and a rest when time is limited during a busy day. I'd recommend trying it with any age children, anytime...